Ever wonder why the Republican response for this country's ailments is tax cuts for millionaires and large corporations? Meet Grover Norquist, the man responsible for locking GOP state and federal lawmakers into opposing new taxes for decades.
Despite the misleading campaign promises by Republican lawmakers in most states and Washington, most GOP politicians at State and Federal levels sign a pledge -- which takes precedence over the Constitution and the oath of office these politicians swear on a bible to uphold -- to Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), not to raise taxes, which is actually the answer to tackling the huge deficits the U.S. faces. Norquist has locked in Republican lawmakers to oppose new taxes for decades and the results of the GOP's magical tax-cut thinking this past decade have proved quite costly to U.S. citizens.
In fact, the GOP's deficit debate, fueled by Norquist and company, always involves cutting taxes for their corporate and Wall Street masters who fund most political campaigns for financial gains. But, the issues facing this country aren't as simple as the left / right paradigm the beltway media continues contriving. America's two-party political system is broken and corrupt. Republicans and Democrats, for the most part, are both the same -- both sold out to corporations long ago and have egregiously forsaken those they allegedly represent. The financial problems facing this country are due to tax cuts for the wealthy and increased spending on illegal wars in the Middle East.
Grover Norquist is a well-connected Republican activist with close ties to business and media. ATR is ostensibly a group that pushes for lower taxes with close ties to the Republican Party that frequently allies itself with the tobacco industry. Norquist and company have a dubious history with Washington. In a May 25, 1989 memo -- which was curiously found in the files of the now defunct Tobacco Institute -- to the Steering Committee of ATR by Norquist excitedly reported progress on the 'anti-tax front.' In addition to swaging a member of Congress into promising to veto any tax increase, Norquist reported on three Wall Street Journal editorials highlighting the importance of ATR's pledge campaign in stopping tax hikes. 233 of the 240 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and 40 of 47 Republicans in the U.S. Senate have reportedly signed pledges with Norquist not to raise taxes. Norquist's national strategy includes recruiting Republican politicians at state and local levels who have signed similar pledges.
The pledge -- which consists of a few lines on a single sheet of paper -- that bought and paid for politicos sign was created by Norquist in 1986, and Norquist takes it upon himself to punish pledge breakers by organizing and fundraising for their opponents in GOP primaries and to bully those who break his pledge when re-elections aren't looming. The constituents of every one of the Republican politicos who have signed the pledge have been sold out to Norquist and company. Norquist and ATR are involved with a lot of shady organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, fraudulent "think tanks" and billionaires -- think Koch brothers and company (PDF) -- and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council consisting of corporate lobbyists that work with special-interest groups looking for friendly state and federal legislators who can be bought and paid for by corporations. These legislators introduce legislation written by lobbyists aimed at enriching corporations while selling out U.S. citizens.
Norquist Holds Immense Power Over the GOP's Fallacious Fiscal Platform
As noted by Drake Bennett, a "campaign Promise" is not exactly an oxymoron, but of all the pledges a person can make, campaign promises are the least dependable. Promises made by politicians thousands of times while campaigning are rarely fulfilled once that politician gets in office. Ronald Reagan promised to slash the federal budget deficit. George W. Bush promised not to get involved in nation-building abroad. Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo during his first year in office. In fact, Barack Obama promised to reverse much of the damage inflicted on this nation by the corrupt administration he preceded, but instead made much of the damage worse. All those promises sounded great at the time.
During the past few decades, the GOP has faithfully carried out the Taxpayer Protection Pledge administered by Norquist's Washington-based ATR. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge binds those who signed it to oppose "any and all efforts" to increase marginal income tax rates and to protect tax deductions and credits for the wealthy individuals and corporations they serve. 273 Republican members of the U.S. Congress have signed that pledge to their corporate masters. 2 Democratic U.S. House Reps and 1 Democratic U.S. Senator have signed the same pledge as their GOP counterparts, and 1,252 state legislators have signed a similar less specific pledge. Every time a proposal is introduced to increase taxes in any way -- whether it's income taxes, trimming tax credits, raising capital gains taxes or excising taxes on gasoline or tobacco -- Norquist and company line up against it.
Like the great Medicare scam being pushed by the GOP to take all the money and enrich themselves and their corporate masters while throwing American under the bus, Social Security is also being targeted. The only problem with these "entitlement" programs, as the GOP likes to call them, is that excess money from these programs has been funneled into the general fund and used for non-entitlement purposes. The government "borrowed" the money and doesn't want to put it back. Instead of paying the money back, the GOP and their corporate masters want to privatize everything so they can take the rest of the money. Increasing taxes on the wealthy, particularly the capital gains tax which is extremely low, would go a long way to taking care of all the deficits facing Washington and every state in this country.
Instead of raising taxes on the wealthy, the corporately-controlled U.S. Congress and many State Legislatures are destroying the citizens they allegedly represent. While the GOP holds the debate over raising the debt ceiling hostage, threatening every American unless they make drastic austerity measures because of political corruption and corporate fraud and greed, the GOP remains nearly monolithic in opposing tax increases on corporations as the solution. Most of the deficit problem this country faces today can be attributed to the George W. Bush administration and its blatantly crooked cronyism. But, according to Norquist and company, the deficit must be closed through spending cuts. Instead of fixing the problems associated with all the Wall Street fraud that imploded the U.S. economy, Washington has further enabled the problems that imploded the U.S. economy.
For decades, Norquist and company have strived to own the political establishments at state and federal levels, and pushed propaganda off as fact to promote those fallacious beliefs. Norquist and company promote those who sign their pledge while slandering and excoriating those who oppose them. Fortunately, the U.S. population is awakening to the fact that tax increases for the wealthy and large corporations are necessary to erode an increasing deficit, and Norquist and company are being recognized for what they are. Norquist, despite having no real precedent in U.S. politics, holds immense power over the GOP's fiscal platform, and, through it, the GOP's fallacious national policy debate. Norquist has a Harvard education, and early in his career, worked as an economist and speechwriter for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been a fully functional part of the GOP spin machine.
So Few Are Acting In Ways That Are So Detrimental To So ManyAccording to Bloomberg Businessweek, Norquist is a gifted polemicist, famous for insisting that he'd like to shrink government to the size "where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." His true influence, though, has been organizational. His Wednesday morning meetings at ATR's 12th Street offices are legendary in Washington. They bring together politicians and activists from all over the conservative movement: family-values campaigners and gun rights activists, military hawks, small-government libertarians, and corporate lobbyists. The meetings have helped to coordinate campaigns and instill a sense of esprit de corps among people who might not otherwise think to speak to each other. And in hosting the meetings, Norquist makes his cause the tent pole of that big tent.
Pennsylvania has become the most recent victim of Norquist's "tax reform" pledge, which has become a driving force in many state politics and policies, especially those which have elected one of the GOP's new breed of Governors -- in states like Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to name a few, where Governors have waged Class wars on its citizens while passing illicit "legislation" written by lobbyists -- that have been bought and paid for by Norquist and company.
A look at the progression of the Republican Party -- from Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin -- reveals just how corrupt and corporatized the Republican Party has become. Democrats, as mentioned above, are virtually the same as Republicans. President Obama won't fix the economy. His ties to Goldman Sachs run too deep. The two-party system doesn't cut it anymore. Voting for the party that's not in power is pointless and doesn't fix anything. New solutions are needed. Until you get the corporations out of politics, and the crooks out of office, it's not going to get any better, only worse.
As noted by Steve Salmony, never in the course of human history have so few acted in ways that are detrimental to so many. Never has a tiny minority in a single generation consumed so ravenously and hoarded so avariciously, come what may. It does not have to be this way. Yes, we can change and if we choose necessary change, then the future is open. There is much to do, much that can be done.
According to Source Watch, in the spring of 2005, a New Hampshire statewide grassroots organization, Democracy for New Hampshire (DFNH), initiated a campaign to expose the Norquist influence in that state's political infrastructure. The grassroots strategic initiative, which DFNH believes can be a model for other statewide grassroots organizations, identified state legislators who have pledged allegiance to Norquist, described how this pledge trumps their oath of allegiance to their New Hampshire constituents, provided evidence of how Norquist-based tactics affect local communities, and called on their elected "Senators and Representatives to renounce the Norquist Pledge and re-affirm their oath to the citizens of New Hampshire." Every other state should follow the DFNH campaign and expose the Norquist influence in its political infrastructure.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com